Day: <span>January 28, 2014</span>

Campaigning for an education apocalypse


After observing the race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor teeter ever more precariously over the abyss on the right edge of the flat Earth, I am surprised that at least one of the four contenders hasn’t gone to court to officially change his ballot name to Attila.

The latest chapter, which unfolded last night in a televised debate from Dallas, made it crystal clear – as if we didn’t know already – that the needs and realities of public schools, students and teachers are merely an afterthought— or worse — for these guys.

The incumbent, David Dewhurst, already was on record asserting that Texas teachers are paid a “very fair salary,” despite the fact that teacher pay in Texas lags more than $8,000 behind the national average. If he and his GOP opponents get their way, the gap will worsen, teachers will pay even more than the $700 they now pay, on average, out of their own pockets each year for classroom supplies and their classes will get larger.

Dan Patrick, the self-styled “educational evangelist,” in truth would plunder neighborhood schools – and most Texas children – of financial resources to line the pockets of private schools and private charter operators for the benefit of a handful of mostly cherry-picked students.

Judging from the debate and general campaign rhetoric, nothing much separates Dewhurst, Patrick and the other two GOP contenders – Jerry Patterson and Todd Staples – from each other. And, that is bad news for public education.

All four committed or recommitted last night to teaching creationism in Texas schools, an idea struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 because it “impermissibly endorses religion.”

These four candidates are running for the second highest office in Texas, folks, an office with tremendous influence over legislation. Candidates for that office should be promoting investment in a public education system that will be the key to Texas’ future in the 21st century, not endorsing ideological detours or schemes to plunder neighborhood classrooms.

Instead of sounding like serious candidates for high office, these guys, as my TSTA colleague, Ed Martin notes, sound more like the “Four Horsemen of the Republican Apocalypse.”… An apocalypse for public education, in the destructive, not revelatory, sense.